Friday, August 28, 2015

Child 44

tags: drama, police procedural, Stalin era Russia, thriller

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Set in Stalinist-era Russia, this gritty drama centers on Leo Demidov, a dutiful member of the secret police who becomes a government target when he begins investigating a string of brutal child murders.
Bad fake accents normally make me cringe but this movie made me disregard it completely because it tells a very effective cautionary tale of being under a communist government. The subject of serial child murders is just there to show how repressive a police state is. I also like that the child abductions/murders are not graphic. Anyone who opposes the government will be sent to the gulag, killed, or charged with being a spy and eventually punished. Every citizen is scared of the Ministry of State Security personnel including their spouses as revealed by Leo's wife Raisa at the last fourth of the film.

Anyone who romanticizes communism and the mass murderer Stalin should have his/her head examined, look up history, and watch this film. It is not perfect but I still recommend it.

Wiki for plot summary with spoilers

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Follow You Home

 mystery, "thriller"

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It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, a final adventure before settling down. But after a perfect start, an encounter with a young couple on a night train forces Daniel and Laura to cut their dream trip short and flee home.
Back in London, Daniel and Laura vow never to talk about what happened that night. But as they try to fit into their old lives again, they realise they are in terrible danger—and that their nightmare is just beginning…
Most of the books I read the past 3 months are not good, except for Haruki Murakami's Wind/Pinball (4 stars). The very popular Girl On A Train by British author Paula Hawkins and Follow Me Home by another British writer both got a 1-star from me. I'm wondering what is happening with British authors. They have become more and more mediocre, I'm really missing my favorite authors.

Follow You Home promises to be a psychological thriller but to me is not a thriller at all. The mystery of what happened to Daniel and Laura in Romania was revealed way too late (somewhere at 53% of the book) that I lost interest because the writing is worse than mediocre, as if it's penned by a 5th grader. I'm not kidding. The full "secret" actually is too flimsy a reason for them not to talk about it with anybody and causing an unnecessary death of a friend of Daniel's. Daniel is a wimp and I couldn't understand why he is still pursuing the crazy Laura knowing what really happened to them.The author has watched way too many mystery/crime telly and it shows in his book.

Not recommended.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Martian Movie Adaptation Trailer

The trailer for the movie adaptation of The Martian is on YouTube and after watching it, I am extremely disappointed. When I learned that Matt Damon is cast as Mark Watney, I thought he will not be a good Mark Watney. Mark Watney has a wicked sense of humor and Matt Damon being a joyless person in real life doesn't project Mark's boundless enthusiasm, energy, and sense of humor in the trailer. And why are the earth personnel and the freaking music overly dramatic? I'm not going to watch this adaptation. Nope, not worth my time. Another good novel ruined by Hollywood.

*I noticed that Matt lost some weight. He probably saw his pudgy self on Interstellar and decided to work out.*  

Sunday, August 9, 2015


tags: drama

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Synopsis from IMDB
A grieving father in a downward spiral stumbles across a box of his recently deceased son's demo tapes and lyrics. Shocked by the discovery of this unknown talent, he forms a band in the hope of finding some catharsis.
I borrowed the DVD just to see and hear Anton Yelchin sing and was not really expecting to give it more than 3 stars but I ended up giving it 5.

Billy Crudup [I've only seen him in one movie, Dedication, which I liked in all its quirkiness], IMHO, does a great job as the self-destructing lead character and if you find yourself in the same situation, you might have a worse reaction to the tragedy. It's a bit complicated to explain without revealing the reason for his behavior which comes into light only at the last fourth part of the movie. Anton Yelchin, Lawrence Fishburne, and the rest of the actors, except for Selena Gomez, are good. It's worth multiple viewing. The original soundtrack is also good.

Highly recommended.

Currently streaming on Amazon; DVD on Netflix